New Route, Interesting Sights, BBQ and Baseball
Trip Start Apr 02, 2011
46Trip End Sep 29, 2011
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Some interesting sights along the way. First, just outside of Springfield, IL around New Berlin, IL (their high school mascot is The Pretzels...one of two in Illinois...also Freeport). Anyway, I saw this sign along the highway that said, "90 degrees west longitude - 1/4 of the way around the earth." Just seemed to be a strange informational sign along the side of the road.
The road takes you past Barry, Illinois, and very near a now-defunct town called New Philadelphia. New Philadelphia was incorporated in the 1830's by a former slave, Frank McWorter. When he bought his own freedom, he became Free Frank McWorter. And was the first African American to start a town in the U.S. He served as mayor for many years. When the railroad came to Pike County, IL, it bypassed New Philadelphia and went through Barry instead. New Philadelphia eventually folded as a community. By the time he died in 1854, Free Frank McWorter had purchased the freedom for 16 people (mostly family members).
Once you cross the Illinois River, which reminded me of the time a buddy and I canoed from Chicago to St. Louis actually starting in Lake Michigan, through the Chicago River, the Des Plaines River, the Illinois River to the Mississippi River to St.Louis....9 days. Now that was an adventure. Remember that. I'll reference it again. But as I was saying, once you cross the Illinois River and then the Mississippi River (which is very high), you're into some small towns in Missouri. One of those is Laclede, Missouri where General John "Black Jack" Pershing was born. Who was he, you ask? The General who led American forces in Europe during World War I. I remember my grandfather told me about him. He thought Pershing was the greatest general and one of the greatest men of his time.
I like to see names of rivers and creeks as I pass them. Most are pretty benign, but one I crossed called "Higgins Ditch" struck me as funny. The "Ditch" was as wide as the Mackinaw River back home. Higgins Creek, Higgins River, maybe, but Higgins Ditch...whatever. Then there are the radio stations you get in Missouri. There's bibles, bluegrass and barnyard banter. And I heard a lot about hog futures. I didn't know hogs had futures. Seems to me their futures involve bacon, ham and pork chops, but I don't know!
Ever drive through Hamilton, MO? If so, then you drove through the hometown of Mr. JC Penny. Yep, James Cash Penny (love his middle name) was born near Hamilton, MO and of course started the nationwide chain of stores which bear his name.
And just outside Kansas City in Kearney, MO is the birthplace of the famous outlaw, Jesse James.
And just outside Kansas City as you enter on I-35 from the north you cross the Missouri River. That reminded me that my buddy and I had such a good time on our canoe trip from Chicago to St Louis that the following summer we canoed from Kansas City to St Louis on the Missouri River. Only took us 7 days. No locks and dams along the way like the Illinois River. Sandy picked us up right under the Gateway Arch. That was a fun trip.
Then I headed to the world famous "Arthur Bryant's Barbecue" for lunch. What a unique experience. They smoke their own meat right out back. You can see the wood piles they use. And the air smells sooooo good! The restaurant is an assembly line affair (similar to Longhorn Smokehouse for you Bloomingtonians). I ordered the combo of ribs and beef brisket...delicious! They serve it on bread...not buns. Cole slaw was only average, but the baked beans were heavenly! The sauce was interesting. Don't think Famous Dave's. More heavily mustard-based than ketchup. I liked the sweet and spicy...very tasty. Pictures on the wall of all the famous people (Jimmy Carter, Sarah Palin, John McCain, Tom Watson, Steven Speilburg, etc.)...very cool. And a funny drawing of Arthur Bryant meeting St.Peter at the Pearly Gates, as St. Peter puts his arm around Bryant and asks, "Did you bring sauce?" Pretty funny.
Then I got an oil change...been driving a lot...found a nearby Ruby Tuesday to beer and blog. More after the game tonight!
Headed to the park, called Kauffman Stadium. Built when they were building stadiums instead of ballpark, in 1973. However, they have modernized it just three years ago to make it more of a ballpark. Parking is shared with the Kansas City Chiefs (Arrowhead Stadium) in the same complex. An idea which was before its time. Parking was only $10 and within 100 yards of the ballpark. Headed to get my ticket...great seat in the 4th row behind the Royals dugout...$50. But the stadium doesn't open until 6:00...strange, most open two hours before the game. This one 1:10. Back to the car and booked my hotel and blogged a bit. More after the game...
What a great job these folks have done on a 43 year old ballpark. Great renovations. They have truly transformed a stadium to a ballpark. Nicely, they kept the beautiful fountains in the outfield. Quite a few Angels fans. Coouple of Bloomington connections here. Angels manager, Mike Scioscia has a brother, Fred Scioscia who is retired from State Farm. I've played golf with him quite often. And then there is Royals play-by-play announcer, and recent Hall of Fame Inductee, Denny Matthews who is from Bloomington...used to work at WJBC. His brothers both work(ed) for State Farm. Mike still does...and also does color at ISU basketball games with Dick Luetke. And other brother (name escapes me now) worked in HR before he retired. Good family.
Game got off to a bad start. Angels scored 2 in the first, but the Royals came back with 5 in the 3rd and won 7-3. I'm now 11-5 for the home team. Nice folks sitting around me. Good little Royals fan kid got the ball after the game...he and parents were very appreciative. Had a little picture trouble...got my pic taken, but couldn't figure out how to make the number 16 with my fingers without looking like it was some kind of gang sign. I settled for a picture alone. I'll upload later.
Then I headed to Booneville, MO to spend the night at a Holiday Inn Express; about halfway between STL and KC. More as to why tomorrow. Passed one more historical place on the way, but didn't stop. Independence, MO.
Quickly, what US President was from there? Right...Harry "The Buck Stops Here" Truman.
More tomorrow when I have to cheer for the St Louis Cardinals...I can't believe I'm even saying that!